How much to charge for social media management depends on your experience level
Unless you are a social media management superstar with a big name, your ability to prove how much experience you have is going to be a huge deal when negotiating with a client. They’re going to want you to prove that you know your stuff and have had previous successes. Once you’ve hit the five-year mark, you can charge a significantly larger fee. You’ll also want to point out any specialties you have, such as content creation or the ability to attract followers (with proof). The following is what you could potentially charge for social media marketing, for each experience level:
Typical fees for social media management:
- Green (0-3 years experience): $15-$50/hr
- Intermediate (3-5 years experience): $50-$100/hr
- Advanced (5-10+ years experience): $120+/hr
If you opt to go hourly, newer social media freelancer rates can hover around $15-$50 per hour. For more intermediate social media marketers, they can make $50-100 per hour. And an experienced social media manager can make $120+ or much higher.
The income level you can expect to make largely depends on your experience level, your background, and the ability to sell yourself to potential clients.
How much can you charge per month for Social Media Management?
The monthly fixed fee for social media marketing is often a favorite because it allows you to build a team and attain a consistent, predictable cash flow.
Monthly fees can vary widely, depending on what services are rendered. Typical social media campaigns can run between $399-$5,000+ per month. The monthly rate can even go much higher, depending on your experience level, whether you are offering agency level service or the caliber of clients you are working with.
Another option to consider — especially if you aren’t sure what to charge a particular business — is to put together several packages, ranging from basic to full-service, and let them decide.
Other factors that may influence how much to charge as a social media freelancer
It’s practically impossible for a new business to operate without a social media presence these days. The problem is that many companies and brands either don’t know how to run their social media accounts, or they are just too busy to take the time to do it. For this reason, more and more businesses are opting to hire social media management freelancers or consultants to take on the job. That means that if you have excellent social media skills, you can possibly turn them into a job (or business) and make some pretty good money while doing so.
If this sounds like a career move you want to make, you may be wondering how much others are charging for social media management? While social media managers can make hundreds and even thousands of dollars per project, there are several factors that go into determining what you should charge as a freelancer.
The Type of Business
Whether your client is a small or large business is going to make a difference in how much you make as a social media manager as well. Obviously, most smaller businesses and startups can’t afford what larger ones can. Larger businesses will not only have bigger budgets but bigger social media campaigns to manage or create. Where the business is located may also impact your fee. Will you be relocating or is the company local? Will you do everything remotely?
Most social media managers adjust their fees for each unique client. While that may seem strange to some, keep in mind that no two jobs will ever be exactly the same. Use your best judgment when presenting your rates.
Consider the Platforms
One thing you may want to take into consideration when deciding how much to charge for social media is how many social media platforms the company wants you to manage. Is it just their Twitter account, or do they have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Yelp, YouTube, and Google+? Obviously, the more they have, the more you’ll want to charge. Also, take into consideration whether or not the platforms have already been started. Are you creating a brand new account for that company from scratch with no followers? Or are you just there to take over an account that is already well-built?
Another thing to consider is whether you’ll be creating the content or whether the company already has it ready to post online. Many social media managers and consultants also offer services like blogging, copy-writing, or graphic design. If you’re expected to create the blog posts, the charts, or the memes and tweet them, you’ll want to charge more. Alternatively, you may be required to do the research to find good content for the business’s social media platforms, which adds time to your job. However, some companies may already have all of their content created by employees or other freelancers and ready to go.
These days, when a customer has a complaint about a product or service, he or she is just as likely to go straight to social media as they are to call or email the company directly. Will you be in charge of responding to those complaints and following up with them, or will you simply direct them to an employee at the company? Fielding customer complaints and inquiries can be quite time-consuming, especially as a business grows, so you’ll want to charge a significantly larger fee if you will be doing that kind of work.
Another factor that may go into determining your rates for social media management is whether you’ll be reaching out to influencers who can advertise the business’s name, product, or service. It takes time to research, contact, and engage people who may be able to help the business grow their following.
Future time expenditures
When you work as a social media manager or consultant, you may find that you end up doing jobs that aren’t typical of every project. Of course, for any additional time or effort, you’ll want to charge more. For example, a company may be hiring you for short-term purposes, with plans to have their own team take over in the future. This likely means you’ll spend as much or more time training as you will actually managing their social media. The company may already have its own strategy in place, or they may be working on one, and they just want to bring you in to do some consulting. Perhaps they want your input when creating an advertising campaign tailored for a specific social media platform.
Whether or not you work alone is also important. Do you have employees yourself or do you hire freelancers to help with things like content writing and graphic design? If so, you have to make sure you all get paid for your services, which means a larger fee, but many companies are willing to pay that because you bring more specialized expertise to the table.
How should you charge clients?
Before making the final decision how much you will charge your clients for social media management, it is a good idea to decide how you will charge clients.
In the social media service world, it varies all across the board; some social media managers charge by a retainer or by the project, while others do it hourly, weekly, or monthly. This decision all depends on how you want to structure your freelancing or consulting business.
Options for charging a client:
- Hourly Rate: Since most of the economy is based on hourly wages, it’s no surprise that this is a common way for social media freelancers and consultants to base their business on. The hourly rate is simple and convenient, however, it doesn’t lend itself well to building a team and scaling your operations.
- Monthly (Fixed-Fee): Many SEO and social media marketing managers prefer to charge a fixed monthly fee for their services. This gives a consistent and predictable income, which is beneficial for both the client and freelancer.
- Retainer: Lawyers are famous for utilizing retainer fees. Similarly, may social media consultants will charge based on a retainer fee. A retainer is a payment made in advance for future services performed by the social media manager and has some advantages.
- Per-Project Basis: You can also charge on a per-project basis that you set ahead of time. The per-project basis offers a lot of flexibility in outsourcing some of the work if you wanted to scale. However, it also has risks of undercharging if a project takes longer than expected.
There are pros and cons to each of these methods and your choice may depend on your experience level or personal needs.
When to charge hourly
Uncertain time commitment: If you’re working on a long-term project with a company, or a project with unknown terms, hourly may be the wisest decision so that you don’t under-price yourself for something that lasts longer than you initially thought it would.
If you are new: An hourly rate is also recommended if you are new to offering social media management services. An hourly rate will give you time to gauge how long projects will take, giving you better insight into how much you should charge on a per-project basis in the future.
Though there are a lot of reasons why you may want to choose an hourly rate, there are also a lot of valid reasons for why you shouldn’t. One of the biggest drawbacks is it becomes difficult to scale your business by building a team. There’s a great free eBook by FreshBooks called breaking the time barrier that brings up a lot of good points on why you should shy away from the traditional hourly rate that many social media freelancers have been accustomed to.
But if you plan on always being a one-man show, this is less of an issue. Many people simply prefer an hourly rate over all other methods because there is no guesswork involved; There’s no risk of under or overcharging. There are still plenty of veteran social media managers out there that prefer charging an hourly rate, albeit a much higher rate.
When to charge a fixed fee (monthly fee)
Both hourly and fixed monthly fees seem to be popular choices among social media managers since both of these are fairly predictable pricing models. The benefit of a monthly fee is that you typically have a client that pays you year in, year out (if you are doing a good job). Comparing this to doing project-based work, you may have a higher turnover rate of clients, constantly chasing down new clients to work on one-off projects.
When offering a monthly fee option, it is important to keep your clients happy if you want them to stay on board with you. You should set clear expectations, have an open line of communication, build a relationship with your client, and offer good reporting to show the progress. Adopting these practices will aid in increasing your client retention rate over time.
When to choose a retainer
If you are doing consulting work, a retainer is often a popular choice. This allows the client to seek your services at an unspecified time in the future. Sometimes this makes sense when the client is doing some of the social media work themselves and only need your professional help occasionally. There are many other cases where a retainer model is preferable to you and the client.
When to charge on a per-project basis
You want to scale: If you are charging per hour, the bottleneck in your business becomes your time. You only have so much time that you can’t take on an unlimited number of clients if the opportunity presented itself.
You can include internal costs: What if you use software similar to Buzzsumo or a whole host of other social media software? The monthly fees add up quite a bit and you will need some way to include this in your pricing. Project-based pricing allows you to embed the costs of all your operating expenses within the project costs more easily than it is at an hourly rate.
If you opt to charge by the project, you’ll want to put together an outline of the terms of the project and present it to the client before coming up with a rate. Make it clear that any additional work will cost an extra fee.
No matter which option you choose, be firm and confident about your fees. You will always run into clients who think your fees are too high. However, if you find that everyone thinks you’re too expensive, you may want to step back and reexamine how much you charge. Get an idea of what other people in the field with similar experience to your own background charge and try to stay competitive.
It’s difficult to say what you should charge per project, as each project will have a wide variety of requirements. You must make your best guess at how long it will take your, your internal costs, and many other factors, to make it profitable. This will come with experience.